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VI-EPSCoR is a Territorial program of the
National Science Foundation hosted by
the University of the Virgin Islands

 

The Virgin Islands Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (VI-EPSCoR) was awarded $20,000,000 by the National Science Foundation to implement the project Mare Nostrum Caribbean: Stewardship through Strategic Research and Workforce Development. The project period is August, 2014 – July, 2019.

This grant presents a unique opportunity to address the implications of climate change for insular social-ecological systems. Small island communities suffer from a suite of similar problems: limited natural resources, narrow economic base, emigration of young professionals seeking better economic opportunities, heavy reliance on outside entities for goods and services, and the ever-increasing threat of global climate change. 

In the United States Virgin Islands (USVI), nearshore marine ecosystems, especially coral reefs, are key to its economic viability, but they are also especially vulnerable to both land- and water- based human activities and oceanographic-climatic disturbances. To address this vulnerability, VI-EPSCoR focuses on developing both human and infrastructure capacity to conduct marine research to improve both management and stewardship of these ecosystems. 

areas of Research

Among our different research areas, the primary goal of our coral reef research program is to integrate physical, biological and human factors to explain the process of ecosystem dynamics, disease, and demographics (the 3Ds).  An integral component of this research is our investment in emerging areas of research (oceanography, watershed dynamics, and human dimensions). This allows the USVI to synthesize knowledge about the various factors (including those affected by climate change and human impact) that control degradation, tolerance, and resilience of Caribbean coral reef ecosystems, so that the best management strategies can be identified. Additionally, as we capitalize on the unique human, and natural resources and the location of the USVI, we will create a world class research destination producing innovative exploratory approaches and global leadership in environmental research.

Hurricane Impact

This has been our goals and objectives over the course of the first three years of our grant. Early in year 4, in September of 2017, the Territory was devastated by two Category 5 hurricanes (Irma on September 6th; Maria on September 20th). The economic impacts of these storms are estimated to be in the billions and the recovery is still underway with an estimated $8 billion in federal aid allocated to the effort. 

The University of the Virgin Islands experienced over $80 million in damages, primarily to the St. Thomas campus. VI-EPSCoR investments were significantly impacted primarily by the loss of the MacLean Marine Science Center (21 offices, meeting spaces and labs), the loss of the GeoCas computing facilities, and moderate damage to the Environmental Analysis Laboratory. VI-EPSCoR administrative offices experienced moderate damages as well. Fortunately, no loss of life nor injuries were reported for the VI-EPSCoR staff and researchers, although several lost their homes and two of our staff lost parents in work-related accidents as part of the post hurricane cleanup and repair efforts. 

The recovery will take years. Every community and every sector in the Territory has been significantly affected, including UVI. Comparatively speaking, the impacts of the storms on the various components of the Mare Nostrum project are remarkably modest- in large part due to the pre-storm preparation, the dedication and resilience of the VI-EPSCoR team, and in some instances just random luck. The aftermath of the storms has forced us to adapt and adjust at multiple scales- from personal to project level as we reconsider how we can best meet the needs of the Territory while continuing to meet the objectives of the Mare Nostrum project.

 MEET THE TEAM

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VI-epscor program administration

 
 
Kim Waddell, Ph.D.   Director   kim.waddell@uvi.edu

Kim Waddell, Ph.D.
Director
kim.waddell@uvi.edu

 
Kelly Harrigan   Assistant Director, St. Thomas / St. John District   kharrig@uvi.edu

Kelly Harrigan
Assistant Director, St. Thomas / St. John District
kharrig@uvi.edu

Richard Nemeth, Ph.D.   Research Professor of Zoology/Marine Biology, Senior Scientist   rnemeth@uvi.edu

Richard Nemeth, Ph.D.
Research Professor of Zoology/Marine Biology, Senior Scientist
rnemeth@uvi.edu

Kaisa Prentice   Program Manager   kprenti2@uvi.edu

Kaisa Prentice
Program Manager
kprenti2@uvi.edu

 

Mare Nostrum research programs

coral reef Research

Paul D. Jobsis, Ph.D.   Director of the Center for Marine & Environmental Studies, Associate Professor of Biology, Research Administrator III   pjobsis@uvi.edu

Paul D. Jobsis, Ph.D.
Director of the Center for Marine & Environmental Studies, Associate Professor of Biology, Research Administrator III
pjobsis@uvi.edu

Marilyn E. Brandt, Ph.D.   Research Associate Professor of Marine and Environmental Science   mbrandt@uvi.edu

Marilyn E. Brandt, Ph.D.
Research Associate Professor of Marine and Environmental Science
mbrandt@uvi.edu

Tyler B. Smith, Ph.D.   Associate Research Professor of Marine Science   tsmith@uvi.edu

Tyler B. Smith, Ph.D.
Associate Research Professor of Marine Science
tsmith@uvi.edu

 

Emerging research

Kristin Wilson Grimes, Ph.D.   Research Assistant Professor of Watershed Ecology; Director of the Virgin Islands Water Resources Research Institute       (VI WRRI)   kristin.wilson@uvi.edu

Kristin Wilson Grimes, Ph.D.
Research Assistant Professor of Watershed Ecology; Director of the Virgin Islands Water Resources Research Institute (VI WRRI)
kristin.wilson@uvi.edu

Sennai Y. Habtes, Ph.D.   Research Assistant Professor of Biological Oceanography   sennai.habtes@uvi.edu

Sennai Y. Habtes, Ph.D.
Research Assistant Professor of Biological Oceanography
sennai.habtes@uvi.edu

 
 

workforce development

Lawanda Cummings, Ph.D.   STEM Education Director   lawanda.cummings@uvi.edu

Lawanda Cummings, Ph.D.
STEM Education Director
lawanda.cummings@uvi.edu

Bernard Castillo, II, Ph.D.   Associate Professor of Chemistry, St. Croix Campus   bcastil@uvi.edu

Bernard Castillo, II, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Chemistry, St. Croix Campus
bcastil@uvi.edu

Christopher Plyley, Ph.D.   Professor of Mathematics, St. Croix Campus   christopher.plyley@uvi.edu

Christopher Plyley, Ph.D.
Professor of Mathematics, St. Croix Campus
christopher.plyley@uvi.edu

Angelicque Tucker Blackmon, Ph.D.   Adjunct Faculty Researcher, College of Science and Mathematics   ablackmon@ilearningconcepts.com

Angelicque Tucker Blackmon, Ph.D.
Adjunct Faculty Researcher, College of Science and Mathematics
ablackmon@ilearningconcepts.com

Nadia Monrose Mills, Ph.D.   Assistant Professor of Mathematics, St. Thomas Campus   nmonros@uvi.edu

Nadia Monrose Mills, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Mathematics, St. Thomas Campus
nmonros@uvi.edu

Michele Guannel, Ph.D.   Assistant Professor of Biology, St. Thomas Campus   michele.guannel@uvi.edu

Michele Guannel, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Biology, St. Thomas Campus
michele.guannel@uvi.edu


education, outreach & diversity  /  citizen science 

Liza Margolis   Education & Outreach Coordinator   lmargol@uvi.edu

Liza Margolis
Education & Outreach Coordinator
lmargol@uvi.edu

Jarvon Stout   Community Engagement Specialist St. Thomas / St. John District   jarvon.stout@uvi.edu

Jarvon Stout
Community Engagement Specialist
St. Thomas / St. John District

jarvon.stout@uvi.edu

Migdalia Roach   Community Engagement Specialist St. Croix District   migdalia.roach@uvi.edu

Migdalia Roach
Community Engagement Specialist
St. Croix District

migdalia.roach@uvi.edu

 

support & communication

Resa Berkeley   Data Specialist   resa.berkeley@uvi.edu

Resa Berkeley
Data Specialist
resa.berkeley@uvi.edu

Elisa Bryan Lacatena   Communication Specialist   elisa.lacatena@uvi.edu

Elisa Bryan Lacatena
Communication Specialist
elisa.lacatena@uvi.edu

Latoya Matthew   Budget Analyst   latoya.matthew@uvi.edu

Latoya Matthew
Budget Analyst
latoya.matthew@uvi.edu

 
Tracelyn C. Otto   Administrative Assistant III   totto@uvi.edu

Tracelyn C. Otto
Administrative Assistant III
totto@uvi.edu

Julene Dorsett   Administrative Assistant II, St. Croix   julene.chapman@uvi.edu

Julene Dorsett
Administrative Assistant II, St. Croix
julene.chapman@uvi.edu

 

 CONTACT US

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